Economics HL
Economics HL
Sample Internal Assessment
Sample Internal Assessment
6/7
6/7
4 mins Read
4 mins Read
777 Words
777 Words
English
English
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Free

(Microeconomics) What’s wrong with the meat industry?

Table of content

DUREGGER

Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Raising Canes and Cook Out all have one thing in common — their popularly-known, conveniently cheap, greasy yet sought after menu items. Whether it be the Original Chicken Sandwich, Big Mac, chicken finger meal or Cook Out tray, customers flock toward these fast food establishments to throw money in their direction. And though a majority of Americans consume animal products, they fail to hold the questionable internal operations of the meat industry accountable. Not only do the practices of the meat industry negatively affect one’s health, but they contribute to global warming and raise serious ethical concerns of inhumane animal treatment. The meat industry must be reformed in order to turn toward more ethical and sustainable practices.

 

Meat consumption is not a new occurrence — the practice of butchering animals dates back to first-century AD and can even be found in the Bible. Likewise, food similar to the modern-day hamburger appears in a Roman cookbook as a “minced meat patty blended with crushed nuts.” Since then, animal products — specifically their meat — have remained at the forefront of the American diet. Despite its prominence as a core part of many Americans’ diets, there are fatal health concerns attached to the consumption of processed meat. The National Institutes of Health and the American Association of Retired Persons completed a study whose results affirm red and processed meat intakes are associated with “modest increases” in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the use of fertilizers and pesticides to cultivate animal feed and antibiotics to increase animal growth create a plethora of negative externalities — polluting natural ecosystems, killing wildlife and inducing disease in humans. Clearly, the effects of meat consumption on our environment are detrimental — we must change our habits in order to protect future generations It would be naive to argue that meat production must end. Rather, we must produce and consume it responsibly. While some legislative steps have been taken, they need increased enforcement to be effective. On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture must heighten enforcement of all aspects derived in Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations — which serves as a catch all series of rules for meat and poultry establishments and related industries. Similarly, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services must fully enforce Title 9, requiring businesses that produce and sell meat to pass inspection requirements — penalizing those that don't. While established to protect the health and moral integrity of the nation, corruption still exists within these industries that hinder responsible meat production.

 

Smithfield Foods — the world’s largest pork processor and Virginia Athletics supporter — serves as an unfortunate example. Smithfield has a disappointing history of inhumane farming practices. In 2007, Smithfield promised to remove gestation crates — metal crates that constrict pregnant pigs so much they cannot turn around. Only two years later, they backed out of this promise. While reinstating this goal in 2017, their so-called solution still incorporates these demoralizing crates. This April, the Humane Society of the U.S. will take Smithfield to court on the basis of misrepresenting its practices to the public. It is horrific to think this company has gone unscathed for over a decade, dodging the repercussions of its malpractices. Large factory farms — like Smithfield — make up 99 percent of farmed animals. Unless federal regulations are more stringent, these producers will continue to exploit undeserving animals to no end. As if the meat industry could not be more problematic, livestock accounts for at least 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. And about 44 percent of these emissions are methane — a gas up to 100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide. As it stands, these emissions must decrease to meet the goals of the Paris agreement — a legally binding international agreement designed to mitigate global warming. Biodiversity also faces challenges — animal products make up 83 percent of global farmland use, leaving little room for other crops. However, solutions exist for producers and consumers. Though facing opposition in the past, cap and trade programs can be implemented for meat companies to limit emissions. Also, consumers can opt for plant-based alternatives to meat products to lessen demand and consequently supply. Whether you see animals as friends or food, it is an undeniable fact that they are sentient beings. The very label of meat — while seemingly harmless — confines animals to their skin and bone. It transforms their emotion and suffering into nothingness. It dismisses their very aliveness — already considering them dead — and portrays them as objects subject to our control. To senselessly cage and slaughter them without so much as a lick of emotion is cruel and heartless. Personal opinions of meat consumption aside, its industry is cause for ethical, environmental and health concerns. These companies must do better — but ultimately, society must reject such actions. Blindly supporting these establishments only deepens their incentive to pollute our moral and environmental integrity.

Commentary -

The article discusses the ongoing negative effects of the production of meat on the economy and the environment and the government’s aim to promote sustainability in the meat industry. The meat industry is one of the leading contributors to global warming and the pollution of natural ecosystems in the US. The Food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations states that livestock is the cause of 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Meat production includes the release of harmful chemicals like methane, carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, hence adding to the ongoing global warming and climate change in the environment. Moreover, these negative impacts are severe weather conditions, sea level rising and impact on biodiversity, thus worsening the sustainability of the environment. These detrimental effects of meat production create a negative externality of production in the economy, show the spillover costs due to the excessive production of meat in the american market.This concept of negative externality of production can be represented in the figure below -

Figure 1 - Negative Externality Of Production

Figure 1 demonstrates a negative externality of production and the impact of this externality on the economy and sustainability. Negative externality of production occur when MSC (marginal social cost) is greater than MPC ( marginal private cost), leading to a welfare loss. The shaded region depicts this welfare loss in the market.This means that there is a larger negative impact on the society than the meat industry which create “a plethora of negative externality”. There is an overproduction of goods which here is meat resulting in an overallocation leading to market failure, this means that the quantity produced is greater than the optimum level from Qs to Qp. Hence, this overallocated resource here is the meat being produced and the externalities are the negative environmental impacts which effect the sustainability.

 

The market failure here in the meat industry negates the social cause of production and consumption to be represented in the market price. Hence, this results in an overproduction and the overconsumption of meat which also degrades the sustainability. Market failure is clearly highlighted here as the social costs are greater than the private costs and the private benefits are greater than the social benefits. This calls for a solution for this issue which would aid in bringing the market closer to equilibrium. Solutions to solve a negative externality of production include policies like taxes, subsidies and regulation.

 

The article underscores the aim of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer service to strictly execute the title 9 of the code of federal regulation. This directive incorporates stringent rules for meat and poultry enterprises and for them to pass inspection before taking their goods into the market. The implementation of these restrictions on the production of meat leads to an increase in the costs of production for the meat industries and decrease the total quantity of output that they are able to produce. Since the costs of production of meat increases, the meat industries would not intend to reduce their profit margins, thus this means that these increased costs would be diverted towards the consumers in the form of higher prices. With the increase in the costs, the price of meat increases leading to a decrease in quantity demanded. This is because consumers would be reluctant in paying for a good with inflated prices. A reduction in the quantity demanded results in a socially desirable outcome as the external cost decline when the good is produced which means that the negative externality is minimised. The implementation of regulations help producers develop more sustainable and efficient methods of production

 

However, regulations made to correct the negative externality of production also carry numerous limitations. Regulations can be strenuous for meat businesses especially ones that are just starting new to comply with. The high production costs results in low profit margin or even a loss for the businesses, this might nullify the chance for these businesses to invest in research and development. Regulation could also mean introducing barriers to entry which discourage new entrants to join the market, which might limit the supply of the good, especially in the meat industry with a high demand. Moreover, the regulations can also be influenced by political considerations which do not involve taking the consumers interest into account. This can worsen the already existing negative externality and market failure in the economy. The implementations of regulations could also lead to the rise in number of illegal businesses and illegal production of meat. Thus, this leads to an increase in black money in the economy. In conclusion, the government must consider all possible advantages and disadvantages before making decisions and in order to create a sustainable economy.

Bibliography -

AM;, Salter. “The Effects of Meat Consumption on Global Health.” Revue Scientifique Et Technique (International Office of Epizootics), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30209430/.

 

Duregger, Grace. “Duregger: What's Wrong with the Meat Industry?” The Cavalier Daily - University of Virginia's Student Newspaper, 29 Mar. 2022, www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2022/03/duregger-whats-wron g-with-the-meat industry.

 

Kokemuller, Neil. “What Is Human Sustainability?” The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey, 5 Nov. 2021, www.theclassroom.com/what-is-human sustainability-12731251.html.

 

Pettinger, Tejvan. “Negative Externalities.” Economics Help, 30 Nov. 2019, www.economicshelp.org/micro-economic-essays/marketfailure/negative-externality/.

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